His immediate family was there, which includes his mom who hasn't been to church in about four years. She also bore her testimony, and talked a lot about how proud she was of Zach. It was probably the first nice thing I'd heard the family say to each other in the past four weeks. Even more, she said she was really going to try to make it to church more consistently. His adopted sister was there, too, which I believe was her first time ever coming to church. The ward hasreally stepped up in helping us with that family, which has been great. The Young Men have been all over getting him to mutual and making him feel comfortable at church. The deacon's quorum president gave a talk about his own baptism, and presented Zach a For the Strength of Youth and True to the Faith. Then the Relief Society was all over helping Jolene (his mom) out, and has already assigned her visiting teachers. The Young Women welcomed Kayla (his sister) right in. The Elder's Quorum is already arranging to help the whole family move next week. Really, it's been way cool to see the whole situation play out.
Well, I am going to talk about the zoo. Not because it was really that exciting, but because I took about 50 pictures that I will probably never look at again so I figured I would share a few of them here to make it seem like they had some role. (Addition from Megan... By this he means, "I'm not really going to say anything, just include pictures...")
Yesterday, we had easily one of the most interesting lessons of my mission. It was with Li, a man from China who moved here as a dependent of his son-in-law, who is studying economics at UB. Earlier in the week, we had tried to teach Li, who speaks zero English, and his daughter, Ming. Ming, though, could only translate some things, so her translation to Li just really made things jumbled up and completely unspiritual. They also, for some reason, didn't want us to use the Bible, but really wanted to know what made us different from other Christians. Oh... and they didn't know what a prophet was. Haha so we were in a tough situation. Yesterday, though, we took Guo Jian with us! He is a recent convert of about three months, and is the funniest guy. He lived in China his whole life, and is now here working on post-graduate work. We went over to Li's house (kind of unannounced), and the two of them just hit it off! For the next hour and a half, they would just babble on with each other in Mandarin, and Elder Hirschi and I would sit awkwardly. Only about five or six times during the whole thing did Guo Jian ever ask us for help in explaining something. But from that alone, we know he taught about the entire Apostasy and Restoration, the Book of Mormon, eternal families, premortal life, and prayer! After about an hour, Guo Jian turned to us and said, "He wants us to come back to teach him how to be sanctified." Hahaha, so whatever they said, apparently it worked! For all I know, Guo Jian might have taught that God has purple skin, lives in the sun, and is a big fan of Pink Floyd... But I have to admit, the Spirit was really strong! At one point (don't ask me which point of the lesson...) Guo Jian even started crying. The whole way home, Guo Jian was like, "Thank you for letting me come. No. Thank God for letting me come. Now I am a missionary, right?"
I also learned something interesting about Chinese culture. Halfway through our lessons with Li, he offered us a drink of water. We accepted, and he went to the kitchen. A few minutes later, he comes and pours us each a cup of water.... steaming water. Evidently in China, it is utmost hospitality to serve hot water to guests. Haha I mean I guess if that's the worst thing I have to eat or drink, I'll be all right.... but it was definitely weird.
Hmm... other good stories to share....
We were on the bus the other day, and a man came up to us and said, "I didn't call the elders back about six months ago, and it's been bothering me ever since." After a little while, we found out Jim met the missionaries about two years ago, but that he doesn't believe in God at all. Still, he thinks that missionaries are among the most devoted people to anything that he knows, so he really likes us. As we talked on the bus for a while, he was stunned to find out Elder Walker, who I was on an exchange with, hadn't had a fish fry, or real Buffalo chicken wings, so instead of trying to find a less active like we planned, he took us out to dinner! The conversation we had only got us so far, but we are going to start meeting with him, again. It was just really cool to have someone come up to us feeling so guilty for not calling back.
We have met numerous other potentials on the bus, as well. One of them particularly gets us excited. His dad and sister are members of the Church in Mesa, and he has met with the missionaries before. We're planning on swinging over to his place this week.
We also contacted a referral that will be interesting to see how it plays out. His name in Manjurath (no matter how hard you try to pronounce it, you probably won't get it right), and he just moved here from India a few months ago. Somehow or another, he knows a member of the Church who he really looks up to, so he went to Mormon.org and requested a visit from us and a Book of Mormon. When we get those referrals, we don't get much info about them, so we went to his house, and asked if he knew who we were. "Well," he said, "I guess we are all brothers, right?" He explained that he really didn't have any Christian background, and really didn't know anything about Christ as the Redeemer. He said he wanted a chance to read from the Book of Mormon before we meet too much, which is fair enough. I am just very interested to teach someone who has minimal Christian understanding, and who is really going to learn all about Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon.
Of course, I couldn't pass up the chance to be at a political gathering, so I made sure I was on UB's campus for Obama's speech. We obviously couldn't get in, but we utilized the fact that there were so many people there to do some street contacting. We really recognized something interesting, there. Indians are the nicest people, EVER. They just love talking, and are the most respectful people of all time. Plus, the Hindu population from there recognizes that there are good things to learn from everyone, so they love talking about our faith. What I've really come to decide is that the the Restored Gospel is like a weird cross between Hinduism and Evangelicalism. Hinduism as the ends right: Perfection, slow but sure perfection. Evangelicalism has the means right: The Savior. The Church of Jesus Christ just recognizes that perfection, while the ultimate goal, is only possible through the Savior.
But, we're headed up to Niagara Falls for Sister Tulande Vazquez' birthday!
I love you, but I don't miss you!